The workshop seeks to cultivate a greater understanding and appreciation of the complex interrelatedness of natural and cultural systems through intense on-site immersion. Cross-cultural, place-based learning enriches the study of environments by engaging with the historical and lived experience of communities in relation to surrounding bioregions and watersheds.

This course uses observation, experimentation, data collection, drawing, photography, visualization, historical records and exchanges with local communities to address the transformation of landscapes at local, regional and global scales.

Foundational Topics


  • Deep time
  • Earth and atmosphere building
  • Geology of the San Juan Mountains

Ecology & Natural Science

  • Hydrology
  • Biology
  • Soil Science
  • Forest Health

Climate Change

  • Environmental transformation & resilience
  • Food systems
  • Water supply
  • Extraction and energy

Systems Thinking

  • Interconnectedness
  • Problem solving through complexity
  • Environmental education

Landscape Dynamics

  • Language of landscape
  • Land-use history and planning
  • Architecture and climate

Socio-Cultural Dynamics

  • Politics, economics and political ecology
  • Race, gender and class dynamics
  • Indigenous knowledge systems
  • Settler colonialism

Fieldwork + On-Site Exploration

  • Surveying and data collection
  • Drawing and visualization techniques
  • Identification of core issues & stakeholders

Synthesis + Communication

  • Narrative and visualization for different audiences
  • Systems understanding, interpretation and articulation
  • Strategies for implementation

Program Objectives

Participants and faculty are invited to participate in daily seminars and develop their own research agenda within the framework set by the program team. Participants will synthesize their observations and experience through the use of media and writing. Final presentations and projects can take different forms.

Projects may entail recording and monitoring local conditions, analyzing ecosystemic changes, exploring the restoration of physical and environmental spaces associated with the workshop and establishing partnerships with local actors. Workshop outcomes will be made available to a broader audience on this website.

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